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Blisters Are Beautiful, Wouldn’t You Agree?

by Christine Skelly » on Aug 10, 2011 5

The title of this post may justify why my family members smile and nod politely whenever I tell them of my running affairs. The fact that I like blisters, or get excited about getting them may be unusual to a general populous, and maybe even to the running community. But to the even smaller sect that is made up of barefoot runners, blisters are always a welcome sight and a reason to celebrate. And while the experienced barefoot runners are not dealing with soft feet syndrome, I am only a burgeoning barefooter and often loose my tough feet and must break them in again after they soften up.

In fivefingers I almost never get blisters, but since I have been experimenting with my running sandals (also known as huaraches), my feet have been put through the wringer and I have accepted it with open arms.

It all began after getting a good way through Born to Run and by that time I was inspired to do a lot more running than my paltry 2 or 3 miles. Reading 300 pages about runners who are running “ultra” marathons that are 50 or 100 miles long certainly put my record to shame and inspired me. So I strapped on my newly fashioned huaraches and went out, setting my watch for an hour, determined to beat my normal time of 25 minutes. This seemed to work much better than setting a mile goal because I had a commitment instead of a goal. So running for an hour and five minutes produced a mileage of 6.7 miles, a personal best and a milestone I was proud of.

Throughout the run though, I had my left sandal come loose and stay loose, creating a slipping and sliding of my skin against the thin leather soles slapping against concrete. At one point I felt wetness slide down my left foot and I prayed that I wasn’t bleeding and that it was just sweat resulting from the humid 90 degrees on this fine summer’s eve. I didn’t take time to re-tie my sandals, but checking for blood was a priority, and found nothing but clear wetness! Success! My feet were holding up quite well it seemed! I later found that this wetness came from a huge blister under the ball of my foot that popped halfway through my trek.

The end of the run showed I had 4 new pillows of fluid that had cropped up during my 6.7 miles and while my family encouraged me to baby them using moleskin, I of course ignored their advice and popped the largest I had, while I let the others incubate, eagerly awaiting their 48 hour transformation into calluses.

So when I say Blisters are Beautiful, it is because they are the precursor to calluses. They fascinate me: they represent the human body’s ability to re-grow flesh in 24 hours and make a shield of toughened keratin in 48. They are the body’s redoubled efforts to rectify the damage due to ignorance and folly, and to be more prepared for future excursions as wiser, more prepared feet.

I actually heard stories from a friend of mine who rows crew telling me of his colleagues trying to preserve their calluses by popping them and re-filling them with glue. Such lengths may not be necessary for recreational runners, but calluses certainly have their upsides when feet hit pavement and I for one welcome that meeting with my fortified feet.

Do you ever get blisters in your FiveFingers? Or in any other minimalist shoe? Blisters: love ‘em or hate ‘em? Put your thoughts in a comment below.


  1. schlingel

    August 10th, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    I actually get blisters quite often in my VFFs and it annoys me. Additional suckle comes from the fact that I am not even running in them. Walking for two hours is about enough to start blistering a little. Those blisters are fine as long as they don’t get too huge for the reason you pointed out. But if you will walk again for quite a while the next day, it doesn’t really get better but worse.


  2. Alden

    August 10th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I have some lovely blisters from my VFF. I also love them, because it means I went out and did something.


  3. Dan

    August 10th, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    I haven’t gotten blisters with FiveFingers yet. But I must admit that my feet have had plenty of blisters from other shoes in the past. They’re a bit rough.


  4. Attila

    August 10th, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    while in socks, blisters only come out to play in the fivefingers when i find some water to accidently step in during my runs. i haven’t had any issue of sweat moistening my skin enough to cause blisters. Of course thats with socks. without socks, its a bit easier to get blisters as sweat and debris builds up inside the shoe. i found that wearing them (VFFs) loose allows my foot to slip around inside the shoe too much and causes some irritation.
    blisters don’t make me happy necessarily, but they are that sort of pain/experience that while painful/irritating is also exciting/pleasing. maybe its the pain-loving sicko inside me talking now, but i’ve lived with some serious joint and muscle pains and now i welcome new pains that signify that something in my body is getting stronger/more durable/etc.


  5. Rob

    August 10th, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Oddly enough I never get blisters in VFF, running shoes or even in my army boots when doing ruck marches. I guess I am lucky in never had a blister or get them often enough to remember getting one although I have seen some horrible blisters and glad I don’t get them.


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